Finishing touches comes down to all the “little” things. At this point your contractors will be installing mirrors, closet shelving, screens, etc. and doing final paint touch ups in preparation for cleaning. While this was exciting, the finishing touches phase was a little stressful for us. I’ve had a handful of people along the way ask if I would recommend Schumacher and I have responded with yes, but after going through finishing touches and closing I’m slightly torn. We have a beautiful home, but a few things may lead me to research all available options a little more thoroughly before making a final decision with them in the scenario we were building a new home again. Let’s recap…
Mirrors & Shelving
Exciting things first…I loved visiting our home and seeing those little things installed; the mirrors completed the bathrooms and the shelving units let me imagine where I’d be attempting to neatly store random items in cute baskets and containers! (Which I’m still imagining for the most part to keep things real with y’all, but I totally plan on having the cutest linen closet in our master bathroom by the end of the year haha) I was especially excited to have the shelving installed in our pantry, because a walk in pantry is just a dream to me in the world of kitchens.
You’ll just get the basics when it comes to mirrors and shelving, but it’s sufficient to get you started. Down the road we plan on making updates in each room. I’d love to install more decorative mirrors, replace the wire shelving in the pantry with flat surface shelving and re-design our master bedroom’s closet to make a more fitting space for my wedding dress…that I framed of course. My first blog even has an entire post on framing my wedding dress. Read it here should you find yourself curious 🙂
The window screens were pretty smooth sailing for us too. We had two that had to be re-ordered to get the right size, but they ended up being delivered prior to move in and our builder, by that point, installed them for us. These are so simple to install on your own too so if you run into a delay with screens feel free to move forward with closing and just have them sent to your house when ready. Your builder will likely offer to install them after move in if that’s your preference. Ironically, my favorite windows in the house don’t have screens or even open!
The final paint touch up will happen after your walk through with the builder where you’ll have an opportunity to call out anything you want included in your ’14 day list’ to be addressed/fixed before you move in. On paper, Schumacher has 21 days to address the items on this list, but will do their best to complete all tasks within 14 days.
We had a few areas requiring paint touch up, but I will say the walls looked pretty perfect when we moved in. The only let down as I briefly mentioned before, was the amount of speckled paint on our floors! These speckles come off fairly easily, but when they are throughout the entire house it feels like a hassle to clean up. If you visit our home today and crawl around on the floor you will definitely still find some paint speckles – we also may judge you a little bit for doing that, but our dog Max would love it and play with you!
More on the handling of that 14 day list in a moment…
Schumacher will end your project with a ‘construction clean’. This will consist of removing all construction materials, storing leftover paint, light fixtures, etc. in the basement, mopping the floors and some light dusting. When we walked through the house at this point, it just wasn’t satisfactory to me. We may have skipped over this step during pre-construction or perhaps I missed it, but my expectation was the house would be in a show ready state at the end as if it were going on the market to sell. Without speaking up things that would not have been cleaned are…the plaster on the garage floor, the dirt on the basement floor and some structure beams, the debris on the front of our roof and the mirrors in our bathrooms. I will also say we still steamed the floors when we moved in and wiped down all the counters and cupboards and I’m not really complaining about that, because construction is very dusty and I get it. What really bothered me were the things that would have been left untouched and the response when we asked about it; we were told it’s only a construction clean because they are building on private land and not in a community. When you take the time to build a home and spend a significant amount of hard earned money on it, you just expect a little more at the end. Or at least we do.
They have model homes on their campus where people are cleaning thoroughly every day to make it look perfect. That’s what potential clients see and it plays a role in the overall decision to build with Schumacher. I know my new home won’t come with all the upgrades and furniture on display, but if you don’t put the same level of care into our finished product then I’m left a little let down. They did meet most of our requests and our builder at that point even cleaned our roof and basement himself, but the reaction and wiliness to do it from some of the senior team was less than positive. And the ledge over our front door was missed and covered in dirt footprints from the crew installing the window and screen above it. Not a huge deal, but it just comes back to the amount of detail and care put into the project. Bottom line, always communicate your expectations at every phase of the project, especially if you aren’t happy with something.
Back to that 14 day list…
The last thing you’ll do on site before closing is a final walkthrough of the home with the builder. The painter will likely be there during this time too and possibly anyone still wrapping up cleaning. We asked our realtor to attend as well which I recommend doing, because another set of eyes will likely catch something you miss. This is the time to be picky and add a little piece of blue painter tape to anything you want touched up. You’ll also make note of any additional items that need addressed before move in and that’s what goes on the ’14 day list’. Some examples from our list were…
- Re-paint the front door; it was initially painted black instead of tuxedo gray as noted in our contract
- The missing window screens that were ordered, but not received/installed yet
- A cosmetic fix to the foundation on one side of our house that was damaged
- Installing missing side splashes in the master bathroom and kitchen
And in addition to that we had a few small items from an external (not affiliated with Schumacher) home inspection we had done which I also recommend simply for due diligence. Our realtor was kind enough to offer this to us, cost covered. We had things like loose knobs on the tub faucet and a loose downspout on the house outside noted.
Here’s what we ran into at this stage that added to our stress during finishing touches. And please note, I’m just telling the story of our experience and being 100% honest in doing that! I’m not trying to call out anything specifically and/or suggest anyone else base their decision on my comments. Cool? okay 🙂
- Schumacher made the comment to us we were wasting our money with two things we did: another home inspection and radon testing. This didn’t impact our project in any way, but really? The response rubbed us the wrong way. Perhaps that felt offensive to them for us to have someone else check their work? I would expect a builder would support the client, encourage due diligence and confidently stand behind the work completed.
- When we shared the list of small items called out by the home inspector, we got some push back from Schumacher. The initial response was giving us ‘reasons’ for why they would not address items “x, y and z”. The back and forth was a hassle; some items were addressed and some were not.
- The radon testing was very much necessary; if you build in a rocky area in particular you’re going to want to take this into account and incorporate the right protection into your new build. If we would have considered this at the beginning, we would have had a radon mitigation system built into the house that would have been a bit more aesthetically pleasing. Since we did this test at the end, we had to have a mitigation system installed on the back of our house. It’s worth the cost though and put us into very safe levels. Our initial test was 4x higher than it should have been and opening the windows in the basement now and then, as one of the builders suggested to us, didn’t quite feel sufficient!
- We also got a lot of pressure to sign off on our 14 day list even though we still had small items from the external home inspection that were unresolved. It was like Schumacher wanted to close our project as soon as possible so they could move on. There’s no need for me to go into great detail on this, but I’ll say the communication was extremely unprofessional and we certainly didn’t feel like valued clients at this point. Unfortunately, we didn’t even get relief when taking our concerns to the district manager who only contributed to the unprofessional tone with us. It left us pretty disappointed.
What happens when all is right in the world at this point is your project team will address all of the items on your 14 day list, you’ll visit the home to make sure everything is satisfactory and then you’ll sign and date the paper to be filed. You can have your formal closing appointment at Schumacher during or after this step.
Quick pause for dreamy sunlight shining through our bedroom windows!
Closing Appointment with Schumacher
This is specific to Schumacher and has nothing to do with your bank/mortgage loan! The closing appointment will likely be with someone new, the last person you’ll meet on your project team so to speak. This person will lead your closing appointment and be your main point of contact for anything that comes up after you move in. The closing appointment consists of the following key components…
- Change Orders – As mentioned in an earlier post, you’ll receive change orders in the mail for several steps in the process like lot prep, permits, gravel, pump truck, allowance use, etc. that you’ll sign, date and mail back during the build. At the closing meeting, you’ll confirm together that all of these are accounted for and signed.
- Warranty Information – You’ll get lots of paperwork explaining each warranty that comes with the house, or rather the materials or products in the house. Separate this paperwork into two stacks: Warranties that do require registration (like shutters, carpet and appliances) and ones that do not (like structural, foundation, siding and windows) I highly suggest you fill out the warranty forms that day and submit them online or physically mail them so that task is checked off the list. You don’t want to forget and then not have a warranty to fall back on if needed, because the paperwork is missing.
- Service Request information – The process for handling service requests will be explained to you at this time too. Schumacher will want you to reach out to them first with any non-urgent issues so the appropriate trademark contacts can come out and address any concerns. We did this recently and had someone come out to adjust our front door that wasn’t closing properly and fix an under piece that fell off our railing. Someone else will be coming out to re-do some caulking in our kitchen and master bathroom that is splitting. The process is very simple, the timing has been a little slow. They might also sigh when they see an email come in from us, but what can ya do! 🙂
- The Keys!! – The most exciting part of this appointment is when he/she hands over your house key at the end! You’ll get instructions on how to change the lock on your front door so it works with the permanent key versus the builder key you were given at the start of construction. We ended up changing the padlock all together for a different style we wanted (with a keypad entry) and if you do the same you’ll only need the key from Schumacher for a photo 😉
That finally wraps up the construction posts!! Please feel free to ask any questions in the comments or by emailing me from the ‘Contact’ page! Next, it’s on to moving tips, a homeowners checklist for building, decorating and our first three months in our new home!
Until then, here’s one of my favorite views. If you’re on the fence about white cabinets, do it 🙂
Have a beautiful day!!